The birth of the internet has completely changed how many of us see the world. It’s certainly had a massive impact in more staid areas such as politics and news. And it’s opened up almost unlimited potential in the working world. Social media marketing has matured, and brands are now carefully experimenting with injecting good natured humour into their social feeds.
The result? All of us social web surfers get to reap the benefits of a good laugh! And consumers get to engage with brands that are more human and relatable than ever before.
Social Media Marketing Meets Comedy Gold
KFC is masterful when it comes to humorous social media marketing. Remember the #11herbsandspices trending hashtag? When KFC slowly updated their followers to include only the five Spice Girls and six people named Herb? Brilliant, right? It exploded on Twitter and generated a tonne of media coverage.
Then, in February, the British KFC PR team sent out perhaps the marketing world’s best mea culpa. After locations all over the UK ran out of chicken, naturally the internet went wild! There were memes galore, and many hilarious social updates. KFC read (quite on the money, in my opinion) the tone and tenor of the responses, and dove in head first with their apology.
Taking out a full page advertisement of the London Evening Standard, they masterfully played with their famous initials, and cheekily riffed on a well known swear word (at risk of offending anyone, we’ll let you click to see the ad, but it’s pretty funny!). And social media exploded—with praise, mind you. They even had respected PR pros praising their hilarious—and genius—apology.
The Social Shift
And let’s face it. Things change. Times change. And here at Spodek & Co., we feel that we’re in the middle of one of those shifts right now. And it’s mapped out everyday online by brands pushing the boat out on social media.
Whether it’s a finely honed zinger, a gentle tease, or a straight up social media burn, some of the best known brands in the world are becoming notorious for their online humour.
Burger joint Wendy’s is notorious for their short, sharp Twitter-zingers. They cheekily clapped back at IHOP for a recent marketing stunt intended to introduce burgers to the pancake chain:
And smart car (the butt of many “size” jokes!) responded to one jab with some well researched facts, then told the user he’d just “…been science’ed!” Sports teams (and players) are also playing along. And some brands are even tossing out political shade (which we don’t recommend!).
Staying Fresh on Social Media Without Crossing a Line
Which brings us to the fear factor. What if consumers turn away from us? Or if what we think is funny is offensive to someone else? Look, we get it. Humour is definitely subjective. That’s why it’s more important than ever to really know your fans and followers (shameless plug: we can help with that!).
For example, if you have a very conservative fan base, you wouldn’t do what KFC did above. But even the most conservative fan base has a sense of humour! The key is to start small and test the waters a bit. And you don’t have to be a big, powerful brand to take the risk of using a little cheeky fun in your social media marketing campaigns!
Let’s walk through a few ways even the smallest of businesses can relax and have a laugh on social.
How to Clap Back but Stay Classy!
Poke fun at your competitors: A little bit of humour with other brands or your competitors never hurt anyone, right? Check out the engagement on these posts. Not bad for a short, clever response!
Accept a challenge: Has a customer or another brand called you out on social media? Don’t let these opportunities slide! Instead, start a dialogue that accepts the challenge. It’s an effective way to keep people engaged and promote likes, shares, comments and retweets. Follow Wendy’s lead here in response to a fan’s request for a year’s supply of chicken nuggets.
Creative comebacks to your fans: Don’t worry about insulting your fans by getting cheeky. It’s a highly effective engagement tactic when it’s done right. And usually the fan gets such a kick out of it that they switch from hater to ambassador! Tesco Mobile is incredibly creative at this, and the number of retweets and likes they get bears that out.
It’s fair to say that not all of these tactics are appropriate for all businesses. It really depends on your niche, your brand and the sensitivity of the topic. And of course, when in doubt, err on the side of caution! But start dipping that toe in the creative comebacks water. You might just be happily surprised at the result.
What creative and unexpected tactics have you seen in social media? Hit reply and share with me.